On 16 February 2023, Dr. Abas Basir, last Minister of Higher Education of Afghanistan before the Taliban takeover, met with Prof. Manfred Wojciechowski, Vice President for Research and Knowledge Transfer at Hochschule Düsseldorf – University of Applied Sciences (HSD).
Together they discussed ways to support female Afghan academics, for example through facilitating doctoral scholarships and creating postdoctoral positions. Dr. Basir was accompanied by Sayed Farhad Shahid Zada, former Vice Minister for Higher Education, and Mohammadullah Rafie, Adviser to the Minister.
After their takeover, the Taliban regime has excluded women from university studies and banned them from many professions. For instance, women are no longer allowed to work as engineers or physicists, as these professions supposedly do not suit their female nature. Numerous young women are thus forced to put their studies on hold and to give up their jobs. Therefore, these women no longer have their own income. If their families do not support them, they suffer from hunger. Furthermore, many unmarried women are at risk of forced marriage. Dr. Basir aims to give female academics future prospects and to arrange for a number of female scientists to work at German higher education institutions.
The meeting with Dr. Basir served to discuss ways in which HSD could provide support and to agree on concrete further steps. Prof. Wojciechowski assured his preparedness to help and affirmed the importance of the task at hand.